With the increase in popularity of hydroponic growing one must first look at the environment you wish to grow in and then the system that is going to fit your environment.
At Hydrax Horticulture Supplies we supply a wide variety of growing systems in South Africa, let us take a closer look at the six types of hydroponic system we have here at Hydrax Hydroponic Supplies.
- Wick System: This is the easiest and simplest type of growing system that you can use. This system does not require any use of aerators, pumps, or electricity. Most of the wick systems, plants are placed directly within an absorbent substance like perlite or vermiculite, a nylon wick is then positioned around the plant before it is sent down into the nutrient solution. This system is ideal for small gardens and herbs, because plants are not able to obtain a significant amount of nutrients. It is also ideal for plants who does not require a substantial amount of water. You will want to avoid plants like peppers or tomatoes as they heavy-feeding plants and require more nutrients. Water and nutrients are not absorbed easily which can cause toxic mineral salt to build up, so remember to flush away any extra nutrients with fresh water every 1-2 weeks.
- Water Culture: This is another simplistic system and the way it works is it places the rots directly into the nutrient solution. While the wick system places certain materials between the plants, the water culture system bypasses all those barriers and only secures the plants in the water and nutrient solution using net pots. Because the roots are directly placed into the water and nutrient solution oxygen and nutrients are absorbed easily and directly making the growing process of the plants that much quicker. When using this system just make sure the growing area and environment is clean as the plants can develop root diseases if not clean.
- Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain): This is an extremely popular system for home gardeners. With this system plants are placed in a grow bed and secured with a medium like rockwool or perlite, which can also be purchased at Hydrax Horticulture Supplies, then once the plants are carefully planted the grow bed will be flooded with nutrient-rich solution until the water reaches a couple of centimeters below the top layer of the grow medium making sure the water does not overflow. A pump will be fitted and will be set on a timer flooding the grow bed and draining the water back into the pump a couple of times during the day. This system is perfect for any plant, if you want to plant bigger plants though you must make sure your environment in which you are placing the system is big enough as the plants are planted spacious from each other.
- Drip System: This is an easy-to-use system that can be altered for different types of plants, that is why this is a great system for anyone wanting to start growing with hydroponics. How this system works is at the end of each tube is a drip emitter that controls the amount of nutrient-rich solution that is being sent straight to the plant base. Adjusting the flow to meet your required needs for the plants makes this system so easy to use. You can have a circulating or non-circulating system; a circulating system just means that the water and nutrient-rich solution is sent back to tank where it circulates back to the plant through the drip system.
- N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technology): This system scales very well and are commonly used by commercial growers as well home growers. This system is suitable for pretty much any size plant, you will only need to adjust the channels when growing larger plants. So how it works is the water and nutrient-rich solution is kept in a large reservoir. From there, the solution is pumped into sloped channels, it runs down the slope and over the roots of the plants providing the nutrients they need back into the reservoir. The best way for housing the plants in the channels is with net pots.
- Aeroponic system: This system can become difficult to build but it is easy to understand and it does use the least amount of water than any of the other systems mentioned. How it works, the plants grow while being suspended in the air with mist nozzles, connected to a pump, below the plants spraying nutrient-rich solution up towards the plants and onto the roots. The remaining water and solution will fall into the reservoir being circulated and sprayed onto the roots again. You can grow any size of plants in this system but if you wish to plant larger plants, you will have to make sure the reservoir is deep enough and the mist pump strong enough to feed the whole root of the plants.
Now you know the differences between each system and how it is used and what types of plants you can grow. The only next step for you is to decide when and where you want to start growing.